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The Daily Word of Righteousness
The Gospel of the Kingdom
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14—NIV)
John the Baptist preached the Gospel of the Kingdom. The Lord Jesus Christ preached the Gospel of the Kingdom. The Apostles of the Lamb preached the Gospel of the Kingdom. What are we preaching today?
For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. (II Corinthians 11:4—NIV)
Today we are preaching the gospel of going to Heaven when we die. This is "another gospel." We need to return to the biblical Gospel of the Kingdom.
How was it that the Gospel changed from the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth to a flight of saved people to Heaven, to the spirit realm? The change may have occurred through the impact of the philosophy of Gnosticism. Gnosticism, which was prevalent in the first century, teaches that spirit is inherently good and matter is inherently evil. Gnosticism stresses correct knowledge as the means of entering the spirit heaven. Much if not most of today's Christian preaching is more Gnostic than Christian.
The Bible does not teach that spirit is inherently good and matter is inherently evil. If anything, the reverse is true. God pronounced the physical realm "very good." But then sin entered from the spirit realm.
Actually, we do not want to go to Heaven, as such, but to Paradise. We were created in a garden, in Paradise. The memory of the garden is still in our bloodstream. We know subconsciously that out there somewhere there is an Eden, a place where all is love, joy, and peace. We call that garden "Heaven" because Paradise today is in the third heaven.
I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. (II Corinthians 12:2—NIV)
The Bible tells us very little about Heaven. Heaven as presented in the Bible is the place of God and the Lamb, of the sea of glass, of the twenty-four elders, of the cherubim. Heaven itself is never, in the Scriptures, described as a garden. The garden of Paradise is in Heaven at the present time, waiting for its return to the earth.
John the Baptist, the Apostles, and the Lord Jesus did not preach that Paradise is at hand but that the Kingdom of God is at hand.
The three heavens are places.
Paradise is the garden of God.
Eternal life is the Life of God that has come to us through Jesus Christ.
The Kingdom of God is the government of God.
These four expressions obviously are related but are not the same thing. Since we are drawing close to the return of Jesus in His Kingdom, it may be helpful to gain a clearer understanding of these familiar terms.
To be continued.